When two or more vehicles collide, the impacts carry with them a number of factors: speed, weight, and relevant evasive actions all are factors to consider when two cars are involved in an accident. But what if one of the vehicles wasn't a car, but rather, a semi-truck? Beyond the obvious differences, the impact of an 18-wheeler or large commercial vehicle in a collision can sky rocket the damage at the point of impact.
If you happen to be involved in a crash with a "big rig", it is helpful to know how the legal process will unfold so you can successfully prosecute your claim or case. First and foremost, it is an exceptionally good idea to find an attorney who has dedicated their lives to commercial motor vehicles or semi-truck accident cases due to this type of case being very complex and requiring an experienced team armed with the right questions.
DAMAGES FROM AN 18 WHEELER COLLISION ARE MORE SEVERE
Property damage in a trucking crash is often times devastating. When vehicles are tested for safety, they are crash tested in controlled collisions with walls and other cars. Car manufacturers are not testing their vehicles against 18 wheelers. In the real world, the vehicles we operate are designed to minimize a collision and with new technology, even help prevent a crash. But 2,000 pound vehicles are no match when it comes to absorbing the inertia of an 18 wheeler. Even at low speeds, the weight of a commercial vehicle can cause a total loss of a vehicle.
With property damage being so brutal in a trucking accident, it follows that bodily injury damages are often severe or deadly. When your car absorbs the energy created at the point of impact, your body also absorbs that energy. The way the human body violently moves inside the car upon impact is just an example of this energy transfer. The greater the energy transfer, the greater the impact, and in turn, the greater the impact on your body, regardless of the safety mechanisms your car employs.
Trucks, such as 18-wheelers, are long, tall, and almost 20 times heavier than a car. With this being said they are at a much higher risk for causing accidents that result in severe injuries and disability to other road users. Traumatic brain injury (TBI), head and neck injuries, amputations, bone fractures, burn injuries, life-long damage to the bones, muscles or nerves in the spinal cord and just a few of the extensive injuries that commonly occur with this type of accident. Fatalities are also more common in big truck accidents.
TRUCKING COMPANIES HAVE COMPLEX BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS
One of the biggest differences in an automobile accident vs. truck accident is there is usually not just one insurance company liable for compensation. Since Texas truck accident law allows you to sue more than one entity in a single accident, you could have multiple claims between the owner of the truck, the owner of the trailer, the driver, and the owner of the load (if applicable). When you have a claim that is against a trucking company, it is important that your legal team track down and determine all the other potential parties involved in the transport that caused your crash. This must be done early so that appropriate notices can be sent out by your lawyer to preserve evidence.
RECONSTRUCTING THE TRUCKING CRASH
Another big difference between a commercial motor vehicle or semi-truck and a car accident is figuring out the cause of the accident. Car accidents tend to be caused by the fault of a single driver error (did not stop in time, distracted driving, speeding, ect.). Trucking accidents, on the other hand, tend to happen because of their sheer size. They tend not to be able to stop as quickly and also make improper turns. Another factor in this type of accident is equipment failure or manufacturer defects of which would result in a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the truck. It is the responsibility of the driver and truck company to maintain updates and recall repairs on the truck they are operating.
An experienced trucking law firm will know how to thoroughly investigate the cause of a truck accident. This includes the analysis of the trucking logs, safety records from the truck company, the driver's safety record, hour logs, and any training/licenses and any manufacturing recalls or defects. Often times an expert in the field of accident reconstruction will need to retained early to asses the evidence left at the scene of the crash, inspect the vehicles, and determine causation. If this isn't done early by your legal team, valuable information could be lost forever.